Philipp has been involved in sports since he can remember, also privately, field hockey to be more precise. He studied business administration and his first contact with gaming was through regular Counterstrike LAN parties. After an exciting excursion into the consulting world, he spent ten years in the sporting goods industry. Five of those years were spent at adidas as brand marketing manager for soccer and training. After that, the opportunity arose to build up the US brand UnderArmour here in German-speaking countries – an incredibly intense and exciting time that left a lasting impression on him. Philipp was an entrepreneur in the company, implementing the mission “Make Athletes better” – for himself as well! When he met the founder of the training and nutrition platform “MyFitnessPal”, he already had the mindset for the next step and one thing led to another: Now Philipp is a founder himself and CEO of Gamers Academy, a coaching platform for gamers, still focused on FIFA. They are an agile, hungry team of gamers, techies and content nerds based in Munich and Berlin.
You have been in the games industry for some time. And you have seen many trends come and go. From the beginning of your carrier to today: What has changed most positively in the industry and what bothers you about the current situation?
In recent years, the games industry has broken out of the freak niche in a brute and equally charming way. Today, we’re all operating in the mainstream together, and that’s a good thing. Gaming enjoys much more attention, recognition, and economic power than it did 10 years ago. This can only mean a win-win-win situation for everyone involved. We’ve all broken down boundaries, brought the real and virtual worlds closer together. Even discussions about “is this sport or not?” in Esports are long outdated and seem old school, ultimately irrelevant. Copy-paste from analog sports has proven useless for the Esports world, allowing a completely new universe to form.
Which key learnings in marketing can other industries draw from the games industry?
The gamer is a critical consumer who can distinguish authentic content from marketing platitudes. Marketers hoping to make a quick buck with glossy marketing are failing mercilessly. Marketing designed and driven by the community is something other industries, from entertainment to FMCG, should adopt in their marketing.
Who are your role models in the industry? Is there anybody? And if so why?
My role models are passionate, multidimensional people who live a good culture of error. In gaming, Carlos “ocelote” Rodríguez immediately comes to mind. He is a professional gamer, entertainer, and entrepreneur. Authentic, emotional, and successful. That’s about as good as it gets in my eyes.
How did the marketing & promotion of games change in recent years? Where are we headed in games marketing in the next years to come?
With the mainstream came the omnichannel. I think that sums up the transformation in games marketing quite well. As is often the case, it’s the mix and the deep dive into each channel that makes for successful marketing. What is clear is that Twitch has come to stay, big time. I’m a firm believer in creative and thoughtful content partnerships that need to go much deeper than just slapping the logo on something. And we all can’t get around performance marketing anyway. But what remains the most important thing in marketing: a great product.
Which social media channels do you see as key for the games industry?
We were heavy users on the platform long before the TikTok hype and were able to gain ground in organic reach there, which works top-of-funnel for us. In addition, and with a completely different strategy, Instagram also works well for us, although we deliberately use both channels in English. Twitch, Twitter, and YouTube are also a must for gamers, of course.
About the current trend on creators and influencer marketing: The trend towards more micro and macro influencers with a smaller reach and less fans, but more authenticity and engagement: How can the games industry leverage that trend in your opinion?
The trend towards smaller, fresh creators has rightly manifested itself and we are right in the middle of it. Campaign prices that large creators call for and demand through their management are sometimes really crass. It must also be said that the communicated audience and reach only provide limited information about whether the influencer also performs in our area of FIFA coaching. With all creators, you have to take a good look at the analytics and make predictions, because the focus is on the creator-brand-match. As I said, the target group is smart! But clearly, business cases are also created for and with micro influencers, and yes, you can also earn money as a casual gamer.
The media landscape has changed massively in the last ten years. However, PR is still one of the most important communications tools in the games sector. Where do you see PR in the next five years, what will the challenges be?
Media relations will always be a main pillar in games marketing. Gaming is storytelling, always new, with new actors, different settings. What is increasing is the diversity of the media landscape. Clearly, the media is heading into the digital world, and whether there will still be print magazines as there are today in five years, let’s see. Our current communication takes place online, but also quite auditorily in podcasts. The world of our gamers, the Academy world, plays out on social media and this is where the rules are set for PR. First rule: Keep it short, get to the point. No message should be longer than a TikTok.
Bonus question: Which project / topic in your job were you particularly proud of?
One topic that fills me with deepest satisfaction, is talent development and long-term team building. It gives me great pleasure to build, develop and accompany young and high-performing teams and to motivate them with passion and competence. This was the case at adidas, was strongly felt during my time at UnderArmour and even more so now here at the Gamers Academy – every day. My clear purpose.
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